Q. In many Masjids, the Imaam leads the Salaah facing the front wall of the Masjid. After the Imaam terminates and completes the Salaah, there are many people who stand up to complete the Rakaats missed behind the Imaam. This makes it difficult for all those who have completed their Salaah behind the Imaam to move to other saffs at the back of the Masjid. Is it sinful to cross in front of all those who are still completing their Rakaats missed behind the Imaam to move to other saffs at the back of the Masjid?
A. As a general rule, it is not permissible to cross in front of a person performing Salaah without a barrier (Sutrah) in front of them. However, it is permissible for a person to cross the rows (Saffs) of those following the Imaam provided that there is a barrier (Sutrah) in front of the Imaam. The barrier of the Imaam suffices for all those that follow the Imaan.
Similarly, when the Imaam ends the Salaah, the barrier (Sutrah) that was in front of the Imaam will suffice for all the latecomers (Masbooqs) even though the Salaah of the Imaam has ended.
Hence, in the enquired case, if the front wall is directly in front of the Imaam, then it will suffice as a barrier (Sutrah) for the Imaam, the followers (Muqtadis) and latecomers (Masbooqs). Therefore, it will be permissible for those who have completed their Salaah to cross in front of the latecomers (Masbooqs) and there will be no sin on them for doing so.
In regards to the Salaahs not performed in congregation for e.g. Sunnah or Nafl Salaahs, an individual barrier (Sutrah) is required to cross in front of them. (Shaami 1/638 – Umdatul Fiqh 2/276 – Fataawa Darul Uloom Zakariyya 2/445-446)
Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ismaeel Bassa